Alvin Bragg says Trump probe continues as grand jury term nears end

NEW YORK — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is “exploring evidence not previously explored” in its investigation of former president Donald Trump’s business practices, Bragg said in a statement Thursday, pledging that he will publicly announce whether he will seek charges at the conclusion of his probe.

Bragg (D) is facing increasing pressure to be transparent about the status of the long-running investigation of Trump’s alleged practice of misrepresenting the value of his assets to lenders and tax authorities. Two prosecutors heading the team reviewing evidence in the case abruptly quit in February, upset that they were not authorized to seek an indictment against Trump. A grand jury convened last fall to hear evidence against Trump has been inactive recently and is slated to disband around April, although details of that timing have not been made public.

Also on Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) asked a judge to hold Trump in contempt of court and fine him $10,000 for each day he neglects to comply with an order to produce records she is seeking for a civil probe of the Trump Organization and its executives . New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had ordered Trump to submit the documents by March 31.

An attorney for Trump did not respond to a request for comment. Trump and his lawyers have repeatedly maintained his innocence and have noted in public filings that real estate appraisals like the ones at issue in the investigations are often in dispute among professional appraisers.

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James’s civil inquiry could result in a lawsuit against Trump, his family or their business. Lawyers from her office are also assisting with the district attorney’s investigation of Trump, which is a criminal matter. That probe is now led by Bragg’s investigations chief, Susan Hoffinger. The lawyers are evaluating evidence on a daily basis, Bragg said.

“They are going through documents, interviewing witnesses, and exploring evidence not previously explored,” Bragg said. “In the long and proud tradition of white-collar prosecutions at the Manhattan DA’s Office, we are investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor.”

Bragg, in a phone interview, declined to elaborate on the nature of the evidence that had not been inspected or whether it appears likely to lead to an indictment against Trump, who has repeatedly said he and his business broke no laws in valuing their properties or taking tax deductions.

Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, who resigned from their positions on Feb. 23, wanted to indict Trump in connection with what they said were illegal asset valuation practices at the former president’s family-run real estate company. They quit after concluding that Bragg, who took office Jan. 1, was not willing to proceed with a case they were convinced was viable and necessary.

“My determination was that the investigation needed to be ongoing, and that continues to be my determination,” Bragg said in the interview.

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Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), concluded there was enough proof against Trump to obtain an indictment and conviction, people familiar with the situation have said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations. But Vance did not seek a grand jury vote before his term expired — leaving Bragg with the final say. Bragg and his office have repeatedly pushed back at the idea that the departure of the two veteran litigators marked the end of the probe.

Bragg’s statement also suggests the term expiration of the six-month grand jury convened in the fall by Vance to hear evidence does not mean the case is over. The grand jury was inactive for at least a month by the time Pomerantz and Dunne departed, and panelists were instructed to stay home, a person with knowledge of the events previously told The Washington Post.

The statement recently acknowledged “questions about the timing of the grand jury” and suggested that Bragg’s team is not limited by when its term is slated to end.

“As anyone who has worked on criminal cases in New York knows, New York County has grand juries sitting all the time,” Bragg’s statement said. “There is no magic at all to any previously reported dates.”

Bragg promised to announce the results of the investigation when it concludes. On the phone call, he declined to estimate how much longer that could take, calling it “unwise and imprudent” to give an estimation. He noted that past investigations he has worked on as a federal prosecutor and at the New York attorney general’s office have taken years.

Vance’s probe of Trump and his business practices began in 2019. It was delayed by a lengthy battle over the release of Trump’s tax returns and related records and by the coronavirus pandemic.

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In February 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, had to comply with Vance’s subpoena for the coveted records. In July, longtime Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and the company were indicted in connection with an alleged 15-year tax avoidance scheme voting from compensation to executives including apartments, cars and other unreported benefits. That case is still pending and could be tried later this year.

Weisselberg’s indictment was in part an attempt to get him to cooperate against his boss, people with knowledge of the strategy said last summer, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

The records James is seeking records for her civil probe probably would be found at Trump Tower in New York or Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. They include tax documents, statements of financial condition and supporting documents that were allegedly provided as a matter of practice to banks and other parties.

In the request she filed Thursday to hold Trump in contempt, James told Engoron the former president had neglected to abide by a “crystal clear” order requiring he “comply with our subpoena and turn over relevant documents to my office.”

Trump “did not comply at all,” the motion says. He instead sent a response “raising objections to each of the eight document requests in the subpoena based on grounds such as overbreadth, burden, and lack of particularity.”

The attorney general’s team appears to be focused on retrieving records that have been personally handled by Trump, including any notes that were jotted down and may shed light on his decisions and thought processes.

Trump family members are appealing Engoron’s ruling that they be required to sit for depositions with the attorney general’s office, which they say could result in information they provide being used against them in a criminal case.

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